Legislative Update

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The Fight for IM 22

This week brought intense committee hearings on HB 1069, a total repeal of Initiated Measure 22–the anti-corruption and government accountability measure, approved by voters last fall. It contains an emergency clause, making it exempt from referral by voters.

The bill was filed last Friday, and the Republican super-majority seemed determined to rush it through committee and pass it into law by the end of the week. While the measure did pass the House, the intensity of calls and e-mails from citizens coupled with unflattering media attention both in state and nationally resulted in the Senate’s vote being deferred until next Wednesday. The new “spin” you may hear by supporters of HB 1069 this weekend is to suggest that without its passage, the state is in a kind of legal vacuum in regard to campaign finance law. That’s simply untrue: Judge Barnett’s injunction on IM 22 (resulting from Republican legislators’ lawsuit against it) means that we are operating on old law as the case makes it way through the courts. Once again, there is NO emergency. This bill should be killed, or at the very least, the emergency clause should be removed.

Your voice DOES make a difference!  Keep up the calls and e-mails, and with a four-day recess this weekend, it’s an excellent opportunity to talk to your legislators in person as well.

The Next Attack on Direct Democracy

SB 67, which was scheduled for hearing last Wednesday, was deferred for another week due to the large amount of testimony on HB 1069. This bill dramatically increases the number of signatures needed to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, and contains an emergency clause barring voter referral. Once again, this is NOT an emergency.

While it may seem like a good thing to make it harder to change the constitution, South Dakotans have shown great restraint about doing so at the ballot box. Changing the number of required signatures from 10% of the gubernatorial voters in the last election to 10% of registered voters in the entire state (an increase of nearly 88% using last election’s figures) raises the bar to the point where only those well-funded groups (e.g. payday lenders) who can afford to hire petition circulators are likely to have a chance to get an amendment on the ballot.

Not Too Late!

SB 59 in its original form would have allowed the governor to veto initiated measures passed by voters. That most egregious piece was amended out by the sponsor thanks to backlash by citizens even before it landed in committee. However, the first section of the bill, which delays the effective date of initiated measures to July 1 of the following year, did pass the Senate, and has been referred to House State Affairs.

The argument by supporters is that because initiated measures go into effect almost immediately after the election, state government needs more time to plan for what changes they bring. The problem is that such a lengthy delay tempts legislators to tinker with voter-approved measures before they are engrossed. Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton offered an amendment to move back the effective date to January 1st, but it was rejected.  This measure does NOT contain an emergency clause YET.

And So Much More…

Black Hills Chapter members strongly oppose the Governor’s Spearfish Canyon/Bismark Lake land swap. SB 114 is a $2.5 million appropriation to swap state-owned grasslands for U.S. Forest Service property in the Hills for the purpose of creating a new state park, and the administration is pushing it hard, despite budget constraints.. Yesterday, Governor Daugaard announced that, if approved, there would be no entry fee for the new park, which he said was the bulk of citizen complaints. SB 114 has been referred to the Joint Committee on Appropriations.

The Governor’s anticipated Buffer Bill (SB 66) is out. While it’s a first, tentative step toward watershed protection by tax adjustments on buffer strips, it’s a small one. That said, most conservation groups agree that it should be supported.

Several bills bringing back extensively revised pieces of the anti-corruption and government accountability act (IM 22) have also been filed. It’s hard to determine how to approach those until the HB 1069 debate concludes.

Good news: SD Stockgrowers has again introduced SB 135, Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation for beef, with a good number of sponsors on both sides of the aisle. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Legislative Cracker Barrels This Weekend:

Mitchell–TODAY–Fri. Jan 27, noon, City Council Chambers

Spearfish–Sat. Jan. 28, 9am, High Plains Western Heritage Center

Brandon- Sat. Jan. 28, 9am, Legislative Coffee with District 10 & 25

Brookings–Sat. Jan. 28, 9am, City-County Government Building

Vermillion–Sat. Jan. 28, 9am, City Hall

If you know of any other Cracker Barrels this weekend, please let us know.

Thanks for all the calls and e-mails you’ve made and thanks for the good work you do!
Rebecca Terk, DRA Lobbyist

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